By ALFRED GABOT, Editor in Chief
MANILA/WASHINGTON D.C. – In an unprecedented election which was first for the country under the COVID-19 pandemic, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. emerged as the winner in the presidential election based on unofficial votes count garnering more than 31 million votes, the highest in history.
Marcos’ runningmate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio also won by a mile in the vice presidential race getting also more than 31 million votes in the unofficial count.
It is the first time in many years that teammates for president and vice president are elected together. Also, majority of the winning senators also come from their party, the Unity Team, which actually is a coalition of many political parties.
In the Senatorial race, actor Robinhood “Robin” Padilla secured more than 26 million votes, unexpectedly topping the race with comebacking senator and broadcast journalist Lorna Regina “Loren” Legarda and broadcaster Rafael “Raffy” Tulfo coming in second and third with over 21 votes. Many allies of Marcos and Duterte in their Unity Team were also winning the senate race.
The apparent landslide victory by the Marcos and Duterte prompted United States President Joseph Biden Jr. to call and congratulate Marcos for his victory and vowed strengthen relationship between the US and the Philippines. Other officials also congratulated Marcos.
Reports from Washington D.C. showed that in a congratulatory message, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “we look forward to working with President-elect Marcos to strengthen the enduring alliance between the United States and the Philippines.”
“As friends, partners and allies, we will continue to collaborate closely with the Philippines to promote respect for human rights and to advance a free and open, connected, prosperous, secure and resilient Indo-Pacific region,” Blinken said.
“But obviously (the) Philippines plays such a critical, important role and we will seek to continue close partnership in the security realm and increasing trade and economic ties,” Campbell said.
“Our expectation is we’ll be able to continue to work closely,” he said at the US Institute of Peace.
While the National Board of Canvassers composed of the joint members of the Senate and the House of Representatives is yet to start its official canvassing of votes to make the victory of Marcos and Duterte official, the former senator already claimed victory and vowed to be a leader “for all Filipinos” regardless of affiliations.
Also, Marcos disclosed that he and Duterte have started preparing their Cabinet and other officials, with Duterte assigned as the first Cabinet official to head the Department of Education. Duterte said she accepted the post.
Election opponents of Marcos and Duterte have conceded and accepted their defeat and wished the next leaders success in their administration.
Vice President Maria Leonor Leni Robredo has asked her supporters to respect the results of the election but stopped short of accepting defeat in the polls as some followers questioned the results of the election, alleging discrepancies and malfunction of several voting counting machines (VCM) during the election on May 9.
The Commission on Elections and the church-based election watchdog PPCRV (Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting) have ruled out any significant errors in the results of the voting.
In claiming victory, Marcos declared that the Filipino people “have spoken decisively.”
Marcos’ spokesperson, lawyer Victor Rodriguez, said the landslide presidential election win is a victory for all Filipinos and democracy, adding that the former senator will be a “President for all Filipinos.”
“With 98 percent of the votes counted, and an unassailable lead of over 16 million votes, the Filipino people have spoken decisively,” Rodriguez said in a statement.
With the victory, Marcos will be the 17th President of the Philippines starting at noon on June 30 with Duterte as his vice president.
Rodriguez said Marcos is looking forward to working across the country, along with international partners and organizations, to address critical issues and “begin delivering for the Filipino people.”
“To the world, he says: Judge me not by my ancestors, but by my actions,” Rodriguez said.
Marcos ran on a platform of “unity” as he promised to pursue economic recovery from the effects of the coronavirus disease pandemic.
The partial and unofficial tally in the presidential race consistently points to an overwhelming win for Marcos, with more than 31 million votes, more than double the lead against closest rival Vice President Robredo with 14.8 million votes, based on the 98.26 percent of election returns processed.
In his first press conference at the Unity Team headquarters in Mandaluyong City, Marcos said that 31 million Filipinos had “voted for unity.”
Marcos’ win was reportedly a reversal in the fortunes of the Marcos family whose patriarch, the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., was ousted in a “People Power” revolt in 1986.
Hours after declaring victory, Marcos Jr. visited his father’s grave at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio and then went to see his mother, former first lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos.
Photos posted on official Marcos social media accounts showed him standing before the oversized tomb with his head slightly bowed and covering his eyes with his right hand.
Marcos vowed to “hit the ground running” when he takes office on June 30, with the economy, prices, jobs and education to be his government’s priorities.
Marcos also announced he may be meeting the press daily or often to announce new policies and programs.
Marcos had more than 31 million votes in the unofficial results with more than 98% of the votes tabulated. Robredo had 14.7 million votes in Monday’s election, and world boxing icon and senator Emmanuel Manny Pacquiao overtook Manila Mayor Francisco Isko Moreno Domagaso in third placer with 3.5 million votes.
Robredo was quoted telling her supporters the fight for reforms and that democracy would not end with the elections.
“The voice of the people is getting clearer and clearer,” she said. “In the name of the Philippines, which I know you also love so dearly, we should hear this voice because in the end, we only have this one nation to share.”
She asked her supporters to continue to stand up: “Press for the truth. It took long for the structure of lies to be erected. We have the time and opportunity now to fight and dismantle this.”
Reelectionist Risa Hontiveros is poised to become the only candidate aligned with the opposition to win a Senate seat.
According to the unofficial tally released by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Hontiveros ranked 11th with some 15 million votes.
Actor Robin Padilla topped the Magic 12 with more than 26 million votes. Former senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, who was indicted for plunder and graft, capped off the Top 12 with some 14 million votes. His half-brother, comebacking senator Jose Victor “JV” Estrada occupied the 10th spot.
Coming in 13th and 14th are former Vice President Jejomar Jojo Binay and former actor and Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista with almost 13 million votes.
The Senate Magic 12 largely comprises candidates of the UniTeam slate of Marcos Jr. and Duterte, who are both poised for a landslide win.
Those in the Magic 12 are:
- Robinhood Padilla
- Lorna Regina Loren Legarda
- Rafael Raffy Tulfo
- Sherwin Win Gatchalian
- Francis Chiz Escudero
- Mark Villar
- Alan Peter Cayetano
- Juan Miguel Migz Zubiri
- Joel Villanueva
- Joseph Victor JV Ejercito
- Risa Hontiveros
- Jose Jinggoy Estrada